Build a Brighter Branch: Use Infrastructure to Your Advantage 

Authored by Nick Diligente, Senior Marketing Manager, Current 

As banks re-imagine the role branches will play in an increasingly digital world, many are looking at strategies that simultaneously elevate the customer experience and reduce overhead costs. As CNBC reports, branches are shrinking in size while beefing up technological features at brick-and-mortar locations to benefit both consumers and the bottom line. 

Branches, after all, generate revenue and provide a personal touch that goes beyond digital channels. In fact, 44 percent of respondents said they would not trust a financial institution without physical locations, according to an Ernst & Young survey. Many customers still prefer a face-to-face conversation with their financial institution, and the retail bank branch will always hold an advantage in bringing people together. 

This makes the right mix of personnel, process and technology critical to achieving optimal results in the efficient branch of the future. Indeed, branches may be getting smaller, but they’re getting smarter too. 

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In recent years, many banks have introduced self-service kiosks that bring added convenience to the branch, while others are rolling out roaming tellers and interactive walls to engage customers in new ways. At the same time, sophisticated new ATMs and other automated staffing tools are streamlining routine transactions, helping branches operate more cost-effectively. 

But there’s another bright idea that can help banks thrive in a changing world, and it’s been there all along. 

Every commercial property owner wants more efficient lighting, requiring less maintenance, and today’s LED solutions significantly outperform conventional light sources like fluorescent and halogen. In fact, LED fixtures can consume half the electricity and last years longer. 

Given that branches account for about 60 percent (or more) of a bank’s total energy consumption, brick-and-mortar locations are a logical target for cost reductions through the installation of energy-efficient infrastructure, including software and systems that enable granular, precise control of lighting, heating, cooling and more. 

The added advantage of LED lighting is that it can enable a new level of digital connectivity in buildings by housing sensors, transmitters and other electronic components. This can facilitate a reliable, robust wireless data and communications network throughout a building by bringing intelligence to every place light already touches

For instance, lights equipped with environmental sensors that monitor temperature and humidity could keep customers feeling comfortable by communicating directly with the building’s HVAC controls. Or these same smart fixtures might use occupancy sensors to “see” the space and capture data about peak traffic times and which rooms are getting the most use, helping banks meet staffing requirements more effectively or reconfigure the design of the branch to accommodate its unique needs. 

Some consumer retailers have even installed LED fixtures with wireless beacons to send greetings, special offers and other messages directly to shoppers’ smartphones—a concept a growing number of branches are exploring to better connect with customers, point them to meeting rooms or create a seamless handoff with an associate. 

Smart fixtures might also alert maintenance staff when a light quits working so customers aren’t left in the dark for long, especially where security is concerned. 

What it all means is that any branch or office can become a smart building simply by reimagining the role lighting can play. 

In fact, many innovative banks like JPMorgan Chase & Co. are already using infrastructure to their advantage. For these companies, saving energy comes with the opportunity to establish a ubiquitous, digital platform that can enable incredible experiences. 

At Current, we’re fans of smart bank solutions that drive customer engagement and drive down energy use. 

Learn what others are doing to build a brighter branch on our Smart Banking site